Monday, September 28, 2015

Learning Through Play

As I stood atop of the playground at recess duty, I scanned the many children hard at work. They were chasing each other, climbing and sliding, and bouncing balls; activities you see on most playgrounds. On further investigation,  they were collecting leaves and sticks in the ‘woods’ to make “stew”, digging for “gold” in the sandbox, and hiding behind the Trinity Tree  from the “dinosaur”. Children at play. They have such great imaginations. Unfortunately, many experts have been trying for years to keep those imaginations out of the classrooms and studies are showing the impact this has on academic development.

In a recent article from the New York Times titled Let the Kids Learn Through Play (Kohn, May 16, 2015) research on “child initiated” learning was discussed. The article sites research, done at the University of North Florida by Dr. Rebecca A. Macron, following children from preschool age to third and fourth grades. The research compared preschool programs that were more academically oriented, to child initiated, to those in between. Her research showed that children in the more child directed programs showed higher grades by fourth grade than those in a more academic structured program. Similar recent studies at Cambridge University and University of California also show results pointing toward child driven exploration as better for emotional and academic growth.

Upon visiting Trinity’s early childhood classrooms, enjoy the experience of children hard at work. The centers to mimic real life, blocks, and painting may be our future chefs, architects, and artists. Or, our future neurosurgeons and engineers may be trying to figure out how to keep the block tower from falling or how to share the blocks evenly with friends. The skills they are learning in child directed ‘play’ will serve them well in future academic learning, social and emotional development, and the knowledge that learning is fun.


                                                                        -Mrs. Heather Schell, M.Ed.
                                                                          Trinity School
                                                                          Second grade teacher

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